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September 28, 2012Like all teams, the Oregon Ducks entered the 2012 season with question marks. Wide receiver was certainly one of them. The group was long on talent but short on experience, with junior Josh Huff the only returnee with extensive college game action.
One possibility for the offensive staff was the stellar recruiting class wide receivers coach Scott Frost and company had put together the prior season, with highly coveted athletes Chance Allen, Bralon Addison and Dwayne Stanford comprising the group the Ducks targeted at the position.
Against all odds for true freshmen in premium programs, two of them are not just playing this year, they are becoming major contributors.
"When we recruited them we told them there would be an opportunity if they prepared," said head coach Chip Kelly. "It was an open competition like every position and those two guys took full advantage of it."
Preparation and hard work, even before moving to Eugene, is one of the common threads for both Cincinnati, Ohio's Dwayne Stanford and Missouri City, Texas' Bralon Addison.
"They worked hard before they got here," said Frost. "They've worked hard since they've gotten here. They are both smart kids and they both care a lot and it shows in how they play."
Kelly highlighted the maturity of the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Addison as one of the prime reasons for his opportunity to gather the 11 receptions, 162 yards and a touchdown that he has this season.
"Bralon has done a really nice job," said Kelly. "He came in here as a true freshman and never really acted like a true freshman. A lot like Michael Clay was when Michael was here in his freshman year. He had a great grasp, studied a lot on his own in the summertime. When Bralon was here on the first day of practice on August 6th, he really had a good grasp of what we were doing offensively. Real mature kid. Played in the spotlight was a high school quarterback but has made a great transition to being a real effective receiver for us."
And how would the Oregon head man describe the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Stanford?
"Same exact thing," Kelly answered. "Dwayne is taller. They are both real mature kids who have worked very, very hard."
In the first three games of the season, Dwayne Stanford had two catches in each. In Oregon's fourth game against Arizona, he led the team with five.
"Dwayne is just a big, strong kid making plays for us," observed Frost. "I'm really happy with how he has come along as a freshman. The key to him and Bralon Addison both is that they are the most mature 18-year-olds I've ever been around. They are attentive, they don't get distracted, they work hard, and they know their assignments. I'm just really impressed with how they have approached as 18-year-olds coming in here and getting ready to play a football game."
Against the Wildcats the Ducks repeatedly were able to exploit the formation and matchups with Stanford split wide and getting the ball out to him quickly. Defenses will likely continue to face this threat.
"He's got exceptional hands, and his length and range allow him to get to a lot of balls that some other people can't," explained Frost. "He gives us a unique weapon out there in somebody who can fight for balls and go up and beat people for balls."
The other thing the two young receivers are doing is working hard at blocking, a hallmark of Frost-coached groups.
"Most of the guys are blocking well," Frost agreed. "We can still keep getting better as far as that goes. We had a big challenge from Arizona last week and I'm sure going forward against Washington State and after we are going to have some DB's that are hard to block and bring the fight to us. But we're going to stand toe-to-toe with them and accept the challenge."
Among those accepting the challenge in Seattle, Washington on Saturday will be two 18-year-olds, one from Ohio; one from Texas. Neither of whom are acting their age.